A scandal appears to be brewing in the All Progressives Congress over an allegation that party leaders in Delta State, alongside the national leadership of the party, corruptly substituted the name of one of APC’s candidates for the elections, claiming he was dead.
The affected candidate, Christopher Anirah, has accused some leaders of the party, including the National Chairman, John Oyegun, and the party’s governorship candidate in Delta state, Otega Emerhor, of conspiring to fake his death.
Mr. Anirah, who was returned winner of the Sapele/Okpe/Uwvie Federal Constituency APC primary held December 7, 2014, said the APC leaders faked his death to substitute his name with another member of the party, Gibson Akporehe.
PREMIUM TIMES has obtained correspondences purportedly from the party at different levels leading up to Mr. Oyegun, despatched to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, resulting in Mr. Anirah’s substitution.
The party in Delta State claimed Mr. Anirah was dead, and within 24 hours of his purported passing, obtained a death certificate, a court affidavit, and began despatching letters to effect his substitution.
When Mr. Anirah confronted INEC and asked that his name be reinstated, the electoral body demanded a letter from Mr. Oyegun to nullify the first. The letter was never despatched.
At least one official told PREMIUM TIMES his signature was forged for the scam.
Contacted Friday, Mr. Oyegun declined to comment on the case. The APC chairman told PREMIUM TIMES he had too much to do as a soon-to-be ruling party chairman than responding to “allegations of somebody I have never seen in my life”.
But altogether, documents obtained by this newspaper and interviews with party officials, paint a troubling picture of a shocking fraud.
On March 27, the office of the secretary to the Independent National Electoral Commission despatched a letter to the resident electoral commission directing that Mr. Anirah’s name be replaced with Mr. Akporehe based on the former’s purported death.
A copy of the March 27 INEC letter, with reference number INEC/LEG/LM/27T/10/87 signed by Ibrahim Bawa, acting Director of INEC’s Legal unit, was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
The letter indicated that INEC was acting in compliance with APC’s request, even though Mr. Anirah said he had gone to the commission before to dispute the claim of his death.
Meanwhile, a letter, dated January 20 with reference number APC/NHDQ/INEC/19/015/108 bearing Mr. Oyegun’s name and signature was received by INEC on January 23, informing the electoral body of the purported death of Mr. Anirah, thereby asking the commission to replace his name with Mr. Akporehe’s.
The January 20 letter had as attachments a “death certificate” of Mr. Anirah; and a January 15 letter bearing the name and alleged signature of Delta APC Secretary stating Mr. Anirah’s death and that he be replaced with Mr. Akporehe.
Other attachments included a notification of death letter to the Delta APC chairman bearing the name and signature of Odibo Anirah, purportedly the head of the Anirah family; and an affidavit of death bearing Chidi Okonji as deponent.
Curiously, both the Notification of Death letter purportedly by Mr. Anirah’s family head and the death affidavit purportedly deposed to by Mr. Okonji were dated January 15, same day the state chapter of the party forwarded “Substitution of a Dead Candidate” letter to Mr. Oyegun.
That means those processes were completed just 24 hours after the purported death.
Mr. Anirah, declared dead allegedly by the party, said there was nobody with the name Odibo Anirah in his family.
As if to back his claim, the two telephone numbers on the “Notification of Death” letter supposedly belonging to the purported family head, led to people who knew nothing about the case.
While one of the numbers was not reachable, the other was answered by a man who said he was Mohammed from Nasarawa State.
When contacted, the Delta APC Secretary, Mr. Okonji, denied knowledge of the letters. He said the signatures following his name on the documents were forged.
A source in the party accused the Vice-Chairman of APC in Delta State, Cyril Ogodo, as the brain behind the forged documents. PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify that claim. Mr. Ogodo could not be reached.
But Mr. Anirah, the “dead candidate”, said it was Mr. Otega, the leader of the party in the state, who started parading Mr. Akporehe as the candidate of APC for Sapele/Okpe/Uwvie Federal Constituency.
Mr. Anirah said after he was informed of Mr. Odigie’s letter to INEC, informing the Commission of his alleged death and that he be replaced, he wrote to INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, on February 4 that he was alive.
“Then INEC demanded that Chief John Oyegun should write a letter revoking the death substitution letter but he refused,” Mr Anirah said in an April 4 letter to the President-elect Muhammadu Buhari.
“Surprisingly, on March 27, Cyril Ogodo the deputy state chairman and Gibson Akporehe now conspired to write death certificate letter that I am dead and should be substituted with Gibson Akporehe. They now mounted pressure on INEC since Chief Oyegun has not written a revocation letter, INEC was compelled to substitute me.”
“Sir, I am on knees appealing to your good office to ask INEC to revoke the substitution letter since I am still alive,” he urged Mr. Buhari.
“The election has come and gone and APC did not even win the election in my constituency,” he said. “What I want is justice because if these people succeed it could be another person’s turn tomorrow. The world should know that I’m not dead, I am alive. It’s just some people in APC that want me dead, and if anything happens to me and my family, they should be held responsible.”
Mr. Anirah said his efforts to effect the arrest of Mr. Oyegun by police had been futile because this is a country where people like Mr. Oyegun are bigger than the law.